Wyoming Education Association

Summer 2019

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/1133200

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Page 7 of 31

Legislative Action 5 Wyoming's per Student Expenditure Ranks 10th Nationally, 16th in Teacher Salary. National Average Teacher Salary Down 4.5 percent, NEA Report Finds By WEA Staff Wyoming ranks 10th in per student expenditure, and 16th in teacher salary, reveals the annual NEA Rankings and Estimates: Ranking of the States 2018 and Estimates of School Statistics 2019. In 2017, Wyoming ranked 8th in per student expenditures ($16,820). In 2018 Wyoming ranked 10th, reducing expenditures to $16,529 per student (-1.73%). Only Indiana reduced per student expenditures more (-2.64%) than Wyoming. Among neighboring states, Wyoming still ranks fi rst in per student expenditures, but our neighbors have been steadily increasing expenditures. Utah ranked 3rd nationally, with an increase of 6.27% per student; Colorado increased 2.21%; South Dakota 1.45%; Montana 1.09%; Nebraska 0.73%; and Idaho increased its per pupil expenditures by 0.69%. Wyoming's per student expenditure is related to rural and small school funding calculations. While some neighboring states make no adjustment for small schools (Idaho, Utah, Montana) other states benefi t from "economies of scale" by providing education to many more students in larger urban areas. Wyoming provides an equitable education to all students, whether they live in a small, rural community or a larger, more urban area. Funding small rural schools drives the cost per student up, making Wyoming's average look like much more is spent per student. In 2017 Wyoming's enrollment was 92,976 students. Colorado has almost ten times more students (910,280); Utah has 7 times the number of students (652,348); Idaho has triple the students of Wyoming (302,469); Montana, 1.5 times as many (147,088); South Dakota 1.4 times as many (133,861), and Nebraska has 3.5 times more students than Wyoming (323,273). Wyoming's rank of 50th in student population, by very large margins, makes the cost of education per student much higher than our neighboring states. The national average teacher salary, adjusted for infl ation, has decreased 4.5 percent over the past decade, according to the report. The report's fi ndings underscore why educators from states and cities across the nation are uniting in a national #RedforEd movement to advocate for the resources and learning conditions that help all students succeed. Wyoming consistently ranks high for teacher salaries even though the wages are stagnating. NEA also collects data on teacher starting salaries and every year the data show that starting teacher salaries are too low and, for the last decade, still lower than pre-recession levels. This year is no diff erent. The 2017-18 average teacher starting salary is $39,249. Over a ten-year period, from 2009 to 2019, Wyoming teachers' salaries fell behind in spending power. In Wyoming, salaries have increased 4.9% over the 10 years, but the actual value of those increases results in a decrease of -10.1% in dollar value. Neighboring states have ranged from an actual increase of 25.6% (South Dakota), a 7.6% increase in dollar value, to the lowest actual increase of 8.4% (Colorado), a dollar value change of - 7.1%. Over the last ten years Wyoming salaries have fallen steadily behind the rates of growth seen in neighboring states. Wyoming ranked 44th in the nation for percent increase to teacher salaries in the last year. Salary increases for neighboring teachers ranged from 1.72% for Colorado teachers to 3.62% for Idaho teachers, the second largest increase in the nation. Fortunately, because the Wyoming legislature committed to competitive teacher salaries many years ago, Wyoming has kept pace with most Western states. However, the report details that states like Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana, and Nebraska are making concerted eff ort to increase salaries. Like Wyoming, these states are realizing the pressure of a nationwide shortage of teachers, and they are adjusting to catch up. The NEA report provides comparative state data and national averages on a host of important public education statistics, teacher salaries, student enrollment, and revenue and expenditures for the most recent school year. The Wyoming Legislature continues to struggle to fi nd a path forward to diversify state revenue. Without signifi cant additional revenue streams, Wyoming's public schools will continue to lose ground with neighboring states and will struggle to meet Wyoming's constitutional promise of an equitable and adequate public education. The complete report can be found at http://www.nea.org/home/32073.htm

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